Sarah McKenna on how the Red Roses' autumn campaign is geared towards the World Cup

McKenna says it's an 'unbelievable' feeling to play in front of big crowds (PA Images)
8:34am, Thu 07 Nov 2019
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England's Sarah McKenna has said that the Rugby World Cup in 2021 is the "ultimate goal" for the squad.

The Red Roses faced heartbreak at the last tournament as they lost 41-32 in the final to New Zealand. The women are about to embark on a three match campaign in their autumn internationals and McKenna says it will be a "springboard" for the World Cup in New Zealand in two years.

McKenna said: "All in all you can't ignore the fact that we are aiming for the World Cup in two years' time.

"If you want to call it a spring board from tournament to tournament, series to series the ultimate goal at the end is the World Cup and making sure we're going towards that at all times

"We certainly don't hide from the fact that we are going to New Zealand wanting to win. We have just been on the summer tour and we lost to them in the final game so we know we aren't quite on the mark at the moment.

"It's really important to remind ourselves where we need to get to, the goals and aims we've got.

"Time goes so quickly. If you put the days on it, it looks like a huge amount but going from campaign to campaign those days whittle down quite quickly.

"It's important for us not to get ahead of ourselves but to remember to keep sights on winning that World Cup."

McKenna says England are targeting the World Cup (PA Images)

McKenna wasn't involved in the last World Cup but did play a part in the build-up.

She said: "I was around a lot of the girls who were involved, I think everyone was positive about what we were doing at the time. We had an epic win against New Zealand when we were away on tour [the Red Roses beat New Zealand 29-21]  two months before a World Cup.

"I think sometimes feeling on a high, there's a bigger fall to make. I think people returning to Premier 15s is fantastic as people can work on their game without the pressure of the white shirt on your back.

"You get to express yourself again. People are hurting from that World Cup loss and it's important to make sure they get back to rugby and start enjoying it again.

"That's what's great about the Premiership, people can play week in week out rugby and play it for the right reasons and get themselves back on the pitch."

McKenna will be taking to the pitch this weekend as England travel to Clermont to play France and she says their toughest opponent is the French crowd.

"The pressure the French crowd put on you when things aren't going well can just snowball. It's going to be a fantastic lesson for us being in that situation and hopefully we're on the right side of the result as well.

"Within the England camp we feel we're getting to the right places and working on the right things. France away is going to be a tough, tough game as the French crowd is always really noisy and they always get a massive crowd so that's going to be a battle in itself, keeping cool in that situation."

France v England kicks off at 1.10pm on Saturday and will be live on Sky Sports Mix and Arena.